The human condition: we learn from pain

This is bigger than me. What I am feeling is real, mine, and also universal — a Truth about humans and one I don’t particularly appreciate. From my years on this planet and from my teaching and learning experiences, I think that the most important lessons are often accompanied by pain, physical and emotional hurt and discomfort.  It is a difficult thing for a person who loves beauty, order, neatness and “perfection”.  As an artist I am invested in creating successful, glorious and inspiring works — but today I feel crappy.

I could couch it in poetic language, but that is not what this feeling is about.

One of my potential work clients was open and honest in sharing a deep disappointment that she received because of mistakes that I had made.  Mind you, I had circumstances, excuses, and reasons — but the bottom line was that I had let her down in several profound ways. I hate that I did that.

I feel awful about it. I can’t change the past, I am feeling guilty and not at all good about what transpired, and perhaps I can make some of it right in the future, but probably  not. I will not be working with this person professionally, and I most likely will not be helping someone close to her who might also benefit from some of what I can do.  It is a sad day in that my “mis-steps” have limited the future in a very real way. Wishing that I had not done things or had done things is simply not enough, can never be enough. And it is done.

Why is it that being human is as much about discomfort and pain as it is about the joy and positive elements? Why is it that some of our greatest assets include compassion, vulnerability and the ability to learn from failure?  In fact, I so want things to be perfect that I add in words like “with grace” — I want to learn from failure with grace but you know what, I can do it without grace. I can do it poorly, and hurting and wanting to curl up in a ball, too.

Religion teaches forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves. That is the grace, I guess. Grace, with a capital “G” that means finding the God in us. The God that forgives.  And to be forgiven, we experience failure. Yuck. To find God, we also have to find the yuck.I feel like I am about five years old, covered in goo and wanting to open a door. Frustrated and mad, sad and tired.

I won’t stop painting or trying, I am sure.  And yeah, I am learning from this. But I don’t like it, and I want this bad feeling to stop.